- Eric Karabell, ESPN.com Senior Writer
Fantasy owners generally don't care who calls the plays for NFL teams, whether it's the quarterback, head coach, an assistant, a consultant or Santa Claus. Really, it doesn't matter to 99 percent of us. We own Clinton Portis and we simply assume -- or hope, in this case -- he will get the ball enough to be productive. Same with Santana Moss and Chris Cooley. We know the Washington Redskins aren't like the Indianapolis Colts, a team that generally scores so much we can't go wrong, but these three players are important to fantasy owners as well. The fact coach Jim Zorn was stripped of play-calling duties Monday for a guy who was calling Bingo games a few weeks ago just doesn't matter in fantasy football ... unless a moribund offense suddenly becomes special.
In this case, how can it become special? The quarterback position is obviously a problem, and like other NFL teams in similar situations -- the Buffalo Bills, Tennessee Titans, St. Louis Rams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Cleveland Browns and even Carolina Panthers come to mind -- it's tough for other individuals on these offenses to overcome things and be fantasy saviors. Hey, once in a while it happens, like with DeAngelo Williams on Sunday and in the consistency we see from Steven Jackson, but it's rare. This doesn't mean Portis, Moss and Cooley can't overcome this, but they're all likely to disappoint because it's not about the plays being called, but the quarterback running out there.
In Week 6, the Redskins had a home game with the Kansas City Chiefs, a can't-miss matchup that certainly did miss. Jason Campbell, to the credit of most fantasy owners, was far from active lineups. Mark Sanchez was active in more leagues. Campbell isn't the only problem, but he was the one benched in the first half. Still, Todd Collins didn't save the day. No touchdowns were scored by the Redskins. At home. Against the Chiefs. Awful. It happens from time to time, as we saw with the Philadelphia Eagles bumbling to a loss in Oakland, but that was one week. The Redskins have done this most weeks.
Campbell and Collins aren't fantasy factors, at least not in a positive way. Portis was, on the other hand, the seventh-most active running back in ESPN leagues, universally ranked as a top-10 option. While he did end up with what seems to be a decent fantasy day, don't kid yourselves. He gained 78 of those yards on one play; take that run away and it was like watching Julius Jones plod around and go nowhere. Meanwhile, only 20 wide receivers were active in more leagues than Moss. He caught one pass. And at tight end, Cooley was drafted among the top 10 tight ends, entered Week 6 among the top 10 tight ends, and was No. 3 in terms of being active. He's important to fantasy football owners. His fantasy day went OK, if five points is what you'd call OK.
Fantasy owners of this trio want to know how to react going forward, but there really isn't much one can do. Who would target a Redskin in a fantasy trade? It's not because Zorn has lost play-calling duties, either. The Redskins seem like a dysfunctional team, especially on offense, with a meddling owner and a lack of clarity on who is supposed to be in charge of certain roles. Maybe Zorn makes it through the season as head coach, or maybe he's a guest analyst on ESPNEWS by Thanksgiving. The point is it doesn't really matter in fantasy as long as the quarterback is a problem. I applaud the team, kind of, for trying something new with the play-calling, but I fail to see how it's going to change things for the best. ESPN NFC East blogger Matt Mosley deftly notes that Sherman Lewis last called an NFL play in 1999. So that is the answer?
If you own Portis, Moss or Cooley, I wouldn't panic any more than you already have. I also wouldn't go out and seek these fellows in a trade. Portis has reached double digits in fantasy scoring once this season, so it's pretty clear he's been held back. He's disappointed despite the fact the Redskins have played a winless team every single week! The schedule gets a lot tougher now, folks. I'd call Portis a borderline RB2 at this point, but would compare him to Terrell Owens when it comes to someone in a tough situation living off his reputation. Portis is more valuable, but be careful, you might have better options at running back. Moss is probably more of a WR3. I'll leave Cooley in the top-10 for tight ends, because he has remained productive, but it would be nice if he didn't have to spend so much time on the line blocking. You know what? I would have written all this before Zorn was stripped of play-calling duties Monday. The Redskins are a huge disappointment, and their fantasy players aren't exactly lighting things up. I don't see how the big news from Monday changes much.